The near-annual strike at Hyundai Motor has taken a toll on the sales of Korea's largest automaker. Hyundai's car sales last month fell 19.6 percent compared to July to 47,680 vehicles.
That was similar to sales in February and the first time in six months that sales fell below 50,000 units a month. Hyundai's monthly sales this year average around 55,000.
A Hyundai spokesman said labor strikes since Aug. 20 led to up to eight hours of partial stoppages at assembly lines, and unionized workers refused to work overtime causing a production shortfall of 35,000 cars. "The strikes led to delayed rollouts of popular models and sales took a hit," the spokesman added.
Affiliate Kia, whose unionized workers downed tools at around the same time, saw August sales drop six percent compared to July.
In contrast, GM Korea and Renault Samsung, which already reached a wage agreement with their unions, saw sales in August edge up 0.1 to 0.8 percent although the month is typically slow season because customers are on holiday.
Ssangyong, which gave workers an eight-day holiday between late July and early August, saw August sales drop 10.6 percent. A Ssangyong spokesman said strikes began on Aug. 20 and there is a strong possibility that the impact will be seen in September sales figures.
The strikes at Hyundai and Kia benefited the market share of Nos. 3 to 5 GM Korea, Ssangyong and Renault Samsung. In July, when they were not affected by strikes, Hyundai and Kia's combined market share stood at 80.7 percent, but that fell to 78.6 percent in August.
The problem is not limited to Korea. Complications in production in domestic factories impacted the sales at overseas subsidiaries. Hyundai saw exports of cars manufactured here drop around nine percent or 8,470 units compared to July. Kia's exports fell 1.4 percent over the same period.
As a result, domestic production accounted for just 45.3 percent of accumulated output at Hyundai and Kia combined in the first eight months of this year, down 5.8 percentage points on-year.
News of the strikes also impacted the share price of both automakers, with Hyundai closing down 1.81 percent on Monday and Kia 1.49 percent.
Unionized workers at Hyundai have held 22 rounds of talks with management over wage hikes but have yet to reach an agreement. Workers downed tools for eight hours on Monday as well.